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As you proceed through Dragon Age Origins you will collect various runes from dead enemies and from treasure chests. In fact, you'll probably pick up these runes before you've ever run into an enchanter or a weapon which can be enchanted, so their use can at first be confusing.
This guide will help you figure out what runes do and how to use them, and also decide which runes you wish to place on your weapons.
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The Basics of Runes
Runes can be found all over the world. They are not only found as loot but also given as quest rewards and available for purchase at various vendors. Once you've gained a rune it sits in your inventory, useless, until you use enchantment. You can't even use enchantment until you finish Lothering and meet a father and son pair of traders who will be common faces throughout the game. The son is able to enchant items at your request, and he doesn't even charge for it!
Weapons which come slotted for runes will appear as such when you view them in your inventory. Once you've found a weapon of this kind you simply need to go back to the enchanter and ask him to enchant it for you. A simple drag-and-drop enchantment interface appears. Enchantments can be switched out at any time by going back to the enchanter.
The runes themselves come in a variety of effects and strengths throughout the game. In rank of power from worst to best they are titled Novice, Journeyman, Expert, Master, and Grandmaster. Grandmaster runes are extremely rare, so if you like enchanting weapons pick them up when you can!
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Your rune slots on a weapon are limited, so you will have to decide which runes are worthwhile and which are not. This can be a tricky question.
The Flame, Frost, and Lightning runes are straight element damage adds. They are useful in a large number of situations and I personally favor them over most other runes in most other situations. Besides the occasional baddie which is resistant to the element type you're using, they are always active.
Silverite and Cold Iron runes do extra damage to Darkspawn and Undead respectively. The rate of damage they add is double that of the elemental damage runes, so a grandmaster Silverite run does +10 damage against Darkspawn. These are not great runes for an everyday setup, but there are instances where you'll want to go back to camp and switch your runes out. For example, you fight many Undead in Redcliff, so packing a Cold Iron rune is a good idea.
The Slow and Paralyze runes have a chance to slow or paralyze and opponent, with the chance increases with rune quality. The chance seems low, so I don't generally like these runes, although a Rogue with a Paralyze rune can be useful.
Finally there are the Dweomer and Hale runes which add spell and physical resistance, respectively. Given the large number of items and spells in the game that can increase resistance or grant temporary immunity, I don't find these runes useful at all.
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Learn to love runes. They can provide a significant advantage in combat. If you're having trouble with a specific section of the game, think about what runes you have or can buy and how those runes might effect your battle. To prevent spoilers, I'll use Redcliff as an example again. Players who find the long fight against the undead difficult would do well to run quickly back to camp and enchant their weapons with some Cold Iron runes. Learning to use runes well is just another little thing one can do to gain and edge in Dragon Age Origins.
A Guide to Dragon Age: Origins
- Dragon Age Weapons and Armor Guide: Equipment Tactics and Data
- Dragon Age Origins Tactics: A Guide to NPC's
- Dragon Age Origins Tactics: Runes and Enchantment Guide
- Dragon Age Origins Tactics: A Guide to Mage Spells
- Is it the Thought that Counts? Giving Gifts in DAO
- A Gaming Veteran's Guide to Dragon Age: Origins